Last night's premiere of Margie Gillis' Thread at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodward's was dedicated to the citizens of Libya and Japan. Amid all the media images showing the mounting devastation in both countries, it's reassuring to have an artist like Gillis remind us that what binds us most to one another, to our nameless other, is first and foremost our bodily vulnerability.
Thread is a meditation on the fabric--the lengthways warp and the crossways weft--of human connection, and it is structured as a journey. The piece opens with Margie attached at the waist to a cable suspended from the upstage left rafters--an umbilical cord?--and framed within a diagonal of light. It ends with her bent and crumbled on the floor in a tiny spot, a long white cloth spiraling around her body like a winding sheet.
Gillis has always been a gorgeous upper-body mover, her undulating arms frequently arcing and tracing and extending still further into the air via the striking costumes she wears--here designed by Vandal. Such was the case in a captivating middle section when a white dress with longs sleeves that extended well beyond Gillis' hands, in a manner akin to a straitjacket, occasioned some of the evening's most rending choreography. However, an earlier section in the piece also reminded me of both the subtlety and the complexity of Gillis' footwork. In this section, Gillis works with an elastic string pinned to the floor (see the photo above), threading her ankles and calves and thighs (and eventually her arms) in and around and under the string in such a way as to recall those games of elastic I watched my female classmates play at recess as a young kid--and which I always longed to join.
Thread also features co-performers Eleanor Duckworth (a nimble mover well into her 70s) and Marc Daigle, lighting design by Pierre Lavoie, and original music by Larsen Lupin. The show continues tonight at 8 p.m.